Thomas Leslie Debnam – 2nd BN AIF

Living History

Hi all,

I have been researching my wifes family history and found this man, Thomas Leslie Debnam in her family so I thought I would share what I know.

Thomas Leslie was born in June 1889 in Milkmans Creek, Young NSW. Son of Thomas and Margaret Debnam. Thomas was one of four children and was the youngest of the four.

Thomas enlisted in the AIF at Liverpool Camp, NSW on 28 November 1914 and was given regimental number 1340 and attached to the 2nd BN AIF. He then departed Sydney on 11 February 1915 bound for Gallipoli as part of the 2nd BN 2nd Reinforcements on the HMAT A48 Seang Bee.


Thomas then joined the Battalion at Gallipoli on 7 May 1915 as part of Charlie Company, only a couple of weeks after the initial landings. During this time the Battalion saw action around the “Pimple” where they were attacked by the Turks who were decisively beaten. It was also during this time, that one of Thomas’ battalion colleagues invented the periscope rifle.


In Thomas’ service records, it shows that he was transferred to hospital ship, HS Sicilia on 21 July 1915 from a Casualty Clearing Station suffering from a “compound fracture of the skull”, bound for Auberge de Baviere hospital in Malta, which from research was where serious cases of head and spinal injuries were sent.


Unfortunately, at 0500am on 29 July 1915, Thomas succumbed to his injuries and passed away. Thomas was buried in the Addolorata Cemetery, Malta on 30 July 1915 with full military honours. Thomas is also remembered on his parents grave in his home town of Young, NSW.


So, I started looking through the 2nd BN unit diaries for this time, starting at the 21st July when he was transferred to the hospital ship and working backwards. I wanted to see what the unit was doing and try and gain an appreciation of the situation.

To my surprise, on the 17 July 1915, the unit diary shows that “one man had his skull fractured by a piece of shell whilst observing”. I guess I cannot know for certain that this is actually the incident where Thomas Leslie was injured, but it may very well be. The timing and the injury fits.


In his service record it does state “Bullet Brain Serious”, so I am not sure if the unit diary entry is accurate or reflects the injury to Thomas accurately. There is a strong possibility that the entry is for Thomas but we will never know.

It has been very interesting researching this line and learnt a lot more about the Gallipoli campaign.

If anyone has anything else to add, it would be much appreciated.


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